- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, the orphan of Camelot, stepped out of the shadows of family mystique to deliver an emotional tribute to her slain father who 40 years ago won the Democratic presidential nomination at the 1960 convention here.
Mrs. Schlossberg dazzled delegates last night with a speech that invoked her late father, President John F. Kennedy.
"As I look out across this hall, and across this country, I know that my father's spirit lives on and I thank all of you," said Mrs. Schlossberg, drawing cheers and tears from the rapt audience on the second night of the Democratic National Convention.
"Now, it is our turn to prove that the 'New Frontier' was not a place in time but a timeless call," she said, drawing upon her father's remarks in 1960.
Dressed in a sleek white sheath dress, Mrs. Schlossberg entered the hall to the music of "Camelot." Delegates in the cheering crowd waved signs that read, "Caroline," and "I'm here today because of your father."
The lone surviving child of President Kennedy and his glamorous wife Jackie, Mrs. Schlossberg, 42, urged delegates to continue to carry on the vision cast by her father when he accepted his party's nomination.
"I believe that is what my father wanted for us, as he stood here four decades ago not only to make better the world that surrounds us, but to dream of something more," she said.
The remarks rang bittersweet from a woman who lost her father to assassination in 1963, her mother to cancer in 1994 and her brother to a plane crash last year.
Remembering her late brother, magazine publisher John F. Kennedy Jr., she thanked "all Americans, for making me and John, and all our family, a part of your families for reaching out and sustaining us through the good times, and the difficult ones, and for helping us dream my father's dream."
Mrs. Schlossberg acknowledged a loyalty to Vice President Al Gore, whose parents Albert Gore Sr. and his wife, Pauline helped play matchmaker to her own mother and father. She also told delegates that she was pleased to support Mr. Gore's running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, who has said he was inspired to public service by her father.
"Our call is to the young at heart, regardless of age," said Mrs. Schlossberg, reciting the words of her father. "A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust; we cannot fail to try."
An attorney and mother of three who fiercely guards her privacy, Mrs. Schlossberg has shunned the limelight. Last night, she celebrated her family's tradition of idealism and public service.
"I was lucky enough to grow up in a world where adults taught by example. They dreamed impossible dreams, yet they fought hard each day to make those dreams come true," she said. "They taught us the importance of faith and family, and how these values must be woven together into lives of purpose and meaning."
She delivered her remarks with a soft simplicity, her address a sharp contrast to those of her political relatives, who spoke in the fiery cadence of stump orations.
Mrs. Schlossberg's remarks served as an introduction for her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, an icon in his own right for his party's liberal loyalists.
Mr. Kennedy said his brother would have been proud of the woman Mrs. Schlossberg has become: "I see in you the poise and the strength of purpose that belong to your father the dignity and grace of your mother that inspired a nation."
Long beloved by a nation that recalls her as simply "Caroline," a child who romped at the White House, Mrs. Schlossberg brings "enormous truckloads of emotion" to proceedings that have otherwise been predictable, says Wilfred McClay, a professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Her presence, he adds, also serves as an exhortation to renew the party's sense of idealism.
"Caroline is in some ways an 'unpolitical' figure, whose life is not contaminated by direct political involvement," said Mr. McClay. "She speaks for the 'human' dimension of these two men, and of the family, a move that plays very well in the current climate, wherein the public is tired of partisan clashes. She accomplishes a political goal precisely by being unpolitical, a tactic that is very characteristic of our era, and of this particular campaign."
Earlier in the day, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island said Mrs. Schlossberg's convention appearance was "a thrill for all of us."
"My family is overwhelmed by the honor of carrying this legacy, this family name that was really because of President Kennedy and my uncle Robert Kennedy and also my aunt Eunice Shriver, who started the Special Olympics, and my aunt Jean, who started the very special arts for the disabled," said Mr. Kennedy, 33.
"My family feels very proud of its public service legacy, and I think John Kennedy epitomizes the fact that this country is only great if we're all in it together," he said. "That's what this country needs to stand for, and that's what the Democratic Party stands for."
Along with Patrick and Edward Kennedy, Mrs. Schlossberg also shared the convention stage last night with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland's lieutenant governor and daughter of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy who was assassinated while campaigning for president in Los Angeles in 1968 as well as Mrs. Townsend's brother, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Mrs. Townsend, 49, called on the nation to "eradicate the opportunity divide" that wealth and technology have created.
"We can offer everyone the chance to use their talents to pursue their dreams," she said. "Most important, we can provide Americans with the time and the means to give of themselves to their families, communities and our country.
"The chance to serve is the truest wealth," Mrs. Townsend added. "That is the American dream. "It is a dream that my uncle and my father, Robert Kennedy, shared, just as they shared a love for this Democratic Party.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 46, who spoke during the afternoon session yesterday, praised Mr. Gore's commitment to the environment, saying the vice president "knows that nature connects us to God."
Democrats are drawn to the star power of the Kennedy name, explained University of Maine professor Jon Reisman.
"There's also been a certain element of the population that yearned for a certain aristocracy thing princes and princesses and the Kennedy family provided it and the media promoted it, knowing the Kennedys meant ratings," Mr. Reisman said.
Last night's Kennedy gathering "is undeniably great visual historical symbolism," said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Garrow.
"The political downside is having Senator Ted Kennedy there," he said. "How many of the TV consultants will be talking about the family's multigenerational history of personal problems and segue that into Mr. Clinton's?"

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